Justice instead of judgment.

This should warm the heart (I deliberately use the word ‘heart’ rather than the one I would normally use) of my future lawyer Ashok. This should also be of interest to those of my readers interested in the very complex society that India is. The most gratifying part for me is that our Justice (Judicial) system is working! I wish that I could say the same about our Legislative and Executive systems.

A news item in The Calcutta Telegraph, brought to my notice by Anil, has this to say.

HOME ALONE

Women should not be left to lead a life of vagrancy. This seems to be one of the chief messages of the Supreme Court ruling on the maintenance of women deserted after living with and depending on a man for a long time, even if the relationship had not been one of legal marriage. The court ruling is in line with recent legislations placing the live-in partner within the purview of rights and claims to duty granted to legally wedded wives. Its generous scope, however, obscures two interesting points. One is the emphasis on vagrancy. It offers a sudden glimpse of the helplessly dependent status of many women and points to their lack of education, of exposure, skills and of control over their own lives. The just ruling has behind it a protective impulse. In terms of principle, this is a movement, intellectually, away from the ideal that all are equal before the law. Not that the law can help it. A law can only respond to a given situation, and this situation has been created by long years of indifference to constitutional directives: a social situation produced by political apathy. “Someone” has to take care of a deserted woman, the court has reportedly said. Mindful of the dignity of women, the court also referred to the old notion that women are the source of all strength. The ruling itself proves how distant the reality is from the ideal.

The second interesting point lies in the particular case. The widow of an older brother was ‘married off’, by custom rather than by law, to a brother much younger, as is the convention in many communities, especially in the north of India. With the turbulent entry of modern ideas, the traditional safety nets for widows in the family are beginning to fail. The younger brother in this case refused to maintain the older wife after he married according to his wish. The silent acceptance of bigamy within the family as a strategy for security is no longer working, for sharing the resources with a traditional burden is not a priority anymore. Hence the court’s ruling regarding the continuity of maintenance. A woman ‘married by custom’ is not really the same as a live-in partner. Although the ruling on maintenance will help many women in different situations, in this particular case, it is basically ensuring protection for a woman left in the lurch by her marital family.

Scorned Women.


“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,”
spoken by Zara in Act 3, Scene 8. in The Mourning Bride. – William Congreve.

Our blog friend Nick in his blog ‘nickhereandnow’ has a thought provoking post on “Rape Dilemma”. I urge my readers to read that post as well as all the comments and Nick’s responses to them before proceeding further.

In my comment on that post, I have expressed my reservation about the misuse of the incidence of rape in India. Please read this news item to get an idea of what happens.

These incidents of crying ‘rape’ when the man does not want to get married when the woman wants it, after having had a long consensual live-in relationship, is on the increase in India and such stories are common place. If you see the last sentence in the report, the police intend to treat the matter as an ‘atrocity’. The relevant act is actually (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. This act was enacted by the Indian parliament to give some protection to the backward castes and classes of India. Presumably, in this case, the woman is one of these and so, a draconian law can be applied to a so called offense just because the man concerned did not want to get married to the woman concerned.

In many other cases, the police simply treat such complaints as a rape and the man is harassed no end and goes through hell before he fights the cases or compromises with the woman with a hefty settlement and comes out of the ordeal, hopefully a much wiser man. In the meanwhile, real rapists who physically molest women and rape them go scot-free because the women either do not report the matter to the police or the police are unable to find the rapists!

Similarly, many men and their families have been harassed by women whose marriages have failed, lodging police complaints for dowry harassment, so much so, that there is a strong backlash now and the laws pertaining to these ‘crimes’ are likely to be revised after the Supreme Court has passed strictures on the mechanism not applying its mind to the complaints.

I wonder if the Indian democracy has gone overboard with its laws to protect women and whether such misuse of the laws will eventually fail to provide the very protection that was intended in the first place.

Marriage, Divorce And Just Being Single.

My blog friend Jody wrote a robust post in her blog which coincided with two other separate articles about the change that is taking place in relationships. One from the USA and the other from India. The institution of marriage is certainly undergoing change and I am musing about it in this post.

I was married to the same wife for a little over forty years. We knew each other for eight years before our marriage. Our marriage, by any yardstick was a highly successful and rewarding one. It had its ups and downs like all marriages do, but bar one occasion when Urmeela decided to go away to her Mother’s place, the marriage worked and stayed afloat.

With that background, when I discuss the current trends of divorces, messy separations and people having relationships without the formality of marriage, I find it extremely difficult to understand the break down of the institution itself as an important aspect of human relationships. The older friends agree with me, and the younger ones call me an anachronism.

My son and daughter in law, after being married for five years decided three years ago, that they would rather be friends and got divorced by mutual consent. Both of them are in different relationships with other partners. Neither is planning on marriage again. They continue to meet each other regularly, and out daughter in law is very much part of our household with regular visits to me. I have got accustomed to this relationship but I have not understood it.

Delayed marriages, live in relationships, just being single etc are all part of the modern world and so apparently is the institution of marriage counseling. In our times, we sorted out our grief ourselves, or at best someone from within the family knocked some sense into our heads. Marriage counseling has become a good business and I am seriously considering going professional after a recent burst of young people seeking my counsel. I shall be writing about two of them shortly from a different angle, but shall leave my readers with the following story to lighten up the post.

After 25 years of marriage, a husband and wife came for counseling.

When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a passionate, painful tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the years they had been married.

On and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list of unmet needs she had endured.

Finally, after allowing this for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and after asking the wife to stand, embraced and kissed her passionately as her husband watched with a raised eyebrow. The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze.

The therapist turned to the husband and said, ‘This is what your wife needs at least 3 times a week. Can you do this?’

The husband thought for a moment and replied, ‘Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays…, I go fishing.’